When a Chicago lottery winner died there were no signs of trauma and nothing to raise suspicions and his death was considered due to natural causes Urooj Khan was getting ready to collect nearly $425,000 in lottery winnings when he dies. Six months later authorities have a mystery to solve after medical examiners responding to pleas from a relative did an expanded tox screen and found that Khan dies from a lethal dose of cyanide. The Chicago Police Department said the new findings have triggered a homicide investigation.
Cook County Medical Examiner Stephen Cina commented on the rarity of cyanide poisonings and said “It’s pretty unusual. I’ve had one, maybe two cases out of 4,500 autopsies I’ve done.” Last June Khan went to a 7-Eleven store in the West Rogers Park neighborhood and purchased a ticket for an instant win lottery game. Ashur Oshana, the clerk at the convenience store’s told reporters that Khan said he had stopped gambling after returning from a hajj, a Muslim religious pilgrimage, in Saudi Arabia. Khan told Oshana he wanted to lead a better life but purchased the ticket anyway and scratched off the winning ticket in the store.
Oshana told reporters “Right away he grabbed my hand. He kissed my hand and kissed my head and gave me $100. He was really happy.” At a June press conference sponsored by the Illinois lottery Khan stated “Winning the lottery means everything to me. Khan said that he planned to invest part of his winning in his dry cleaning business and would donate some of the money to a children’s hospital. Khan took a lump sum payout of just over $600,000. After taxes he took home about $425,000.
The press conference took place on June 26th and the check was issued by the state Comptroller’s Office on July 19, the day before Khan died. No autopsy was done because the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office did not perform them on those 45 and older unless the death appeared suspicious. A toxicology screening for opiates, cocaine and carbon monoxide came back negative and Khan’s death was ruled a result of the narrowing and hardening of coronary arteries.
A relative approached the medical examiner’s office days after the report and asked authorities to investigate the case further. Cina told reporters “She (the morgue worker) then reopened the case and did more expansive toxicology, including all the major drugs of use, all the common prescription drugs and also included I believe strychnine and cyanide in there just in case something came up. And in fact cyanide came up in this case.” Police are now investigating the case as a homicide.